"In the whale, the world," writes Rebecca Giggs early on in this astonishing piece of environmental writing. In a book about whales, the world, one could say after reading here about subjects as disparate as solar flares and mass strandings; the relationship between charisma and consumption; whale baths at health spas; and so much more. Giggs has immense talent and an eye for the essential detail, with prose that shimmers like a calm sea. Her book is a masterpiece.— From Recommended Preorders
Fathoms is a gorgeous meditation on the awe-inspiring lives of whales, revealing what they can teach us about ourselves, our planet, and our relationship to other species.
What can whales reveal about our world today? When writer Rebecca Giggs encountered a humpback whale stranded on her local beachfront in Australia, she began to wonder how the lives of whales shed light on the condition of our seas. Fathoms: The World in the Whale blends natural history, philosophy, and science to explore: How do whales experience ecological change? Will our connection to these storied animals be transformed by technology? What can observing whales teach us about the complexity, splendour, and fragility of life? In Fathoms, we learn about whales so rare they have never been named, whale songs that sweep across hemispheres in annual waves of popularity, and whales that have modified the chemical composition of our planet’s atmosphere. We travel to Japan to board the ships that hunt whales and delve into the deepest seas to discover the plastic pollution now pervading the whale’s undersea environment.
In the spirit of Rachel Carson and Rebecca Solnit, Giggs gives us a vivid exploration of the natural world even as she addresses what it means to write about nature at a time of environmental crisis. With depth and clarity, Giggs outlines the challenges we face as we attempt to understand the perspectives of other living beings, and our own place on an evolving planet. Evocative and inspiring, Fathoms marks the arrival of an essential new voice.
About the Author
Rebecca Giggs is an award-winning writer from Perth, Australia. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Science Writing, and other publications. Fathoms is her first book.
"Fathoms took my breath away. Every page is suffused with magic and meaning. Humanity’s relationship with nature has never been more important or vulnerable, and we are truly fortunate that at such a pivotal moment, a writer of Rebecca Giggs’s caliber is here to capture every beautiful detail, every aching nuance. She is in a league of her own."
—Ed Yong, New York Times bestselling author of I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
"Fathoms reads like a poem. Its virtuoso thinking is a revelation. I can’t think of many books in which love for the world and uncompromising, ever-deepening rigour come together in this way. Time slows down. This book makes a permanent dent in the reader."
—Maria Tumarkin, author of Axiomatic
"One of the most beautifully written nonfiction books I have read in a long time. It's so hard to do justice to the immense importance of whales and the lessons they have for us all. Rebecca Giggs does an extraordinary job of bringing together the science, the history, and the brilliance and fragility of whales."
—Christine Kenneally, author of The Invisible History of the Human Race